Motorcycle Road Trip 2011 – Day 46

Stagecoach - Jackson, Wyoming

Stagecoach Rides - Jackson, Wyoming

Day 46 of my motorcycle road trip, and it was another amazing day. Not many places as scenic, diverse, and so full of character, as the American west.

I left Cody, Wyoming this morning heading west on Highway 14. Shortly after leaving town, I came upon the Buffalo Bill Dam, and then into the Buffalo Bill State Park. Wild Bill definitely played a major role in this area of the country. Between the Shoshone River, Shoshone Canyon, Rocky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Grand Tetons, this was definitely some of the most beautiful country of my trip. I seem to be using the word beautiful a lot, but I’m not sure how else to describe this country.

It was a nice sunny day, however, as I climbed in elevation into the Rocky Mountains the temperature began to drop. I turned on my heated motorcycle seat and heated handlebar grips, and that help for a little while. But, eventually, I had to pull over to put my rain suit over my motorcycle gear to keep warm. By late morning, the temperature started to rise and I could take off my rain gear.

 


 

As I entered Yellowstone, the highway wound its way along the cliffs and I could see snow on top of the mountains. I stopped at Yellowstone Lake for a quick break. It reminded me a little of Lake Tahoe close to home. A beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. As I continued along, I came upon several cars stopped on the side of the road, and people looking with binoculars. I got off my motorcycle to check out what was there. It turned out to be a buffalo, but so far away it was difficult to see. Next stop was the Fishing Bridge Museum. I had a chance to talk with a Park Ranger about Yellowstone. I also bought a National Geographic Magazine about Yellowstone. I was now on the Grand Loop Road, as the name implies, a road that circles around Yellowstone Park.

My first stop along the Grand Loop was Sulphur Caldron. Sulphur Caldron is a geothermal hot spring with boiling acid water and bubbling mud. The Sulphur Caldron is almost as acidic as battery acid, with a temperature of about 190 degrees F. As I continued riding alongside the Yellowstone River, I could see several cars stopped on the side of the road. Once again, I got off my motorcycle to see why everyone had stopped. Off in the distance, I could see a herd of buffalo. They were just laying around enjoying the sun.

Next stop was Beryl Spring, named for its blue-green color. It is one of the hottest springs in Yellowstone, averaging 196 °F. It is constantly bubbling and boiling, with steam rising many feet above the surface. A little further around the loop was Gibbon Falls. Gibbon Falls is an 80 foot falls along the Gibbon River. As I came to the Lower Geyser Basin, I saw a huge crowd of people. They were looking at the Fountain Paint Pots, another of Yellowstone’s geothermal structures. The Fountain Paint Pots are hot springs named for their bubbling red, yellow and brown colored mud, caused by oxidation of iron in the mud.

Finally I rode through Lower, Midway and Upper Geyser Basins, and Biscuit Basin. Lots of active geysers spewing water high up into the air. Shortly after that I reached the famous Old Faithful Geyser. I parked my motorcycle and started walking toward the Visitor’s Center. My timing was perfect. As I arrived at Old Faithful, I saw steam starting to rise. Then the geyser exploded, shooting water high into the air. Old Faithful erupts about every 90 minutes, shooting boiling water about 150 feet into the air. The eruption lasts about 5 minutes, then the geyser goes quiet again. I wished that I had planned more time so I could stop and see everything. But, I had to get to Jackson this evening. So, after a quick lunch, I was on the road, heading south on Highway 89 out of Yellowstone and into the Grand Teton National Park.

The Grand Tetons are one of the youngest mountain ranges in the Rocky Mountains. This means jagged peaks that have yet to be worn down by the wind and erosion. The elevation ranges from 6,320 feet at the valley floor, to 13,770 feet on the summit of the Grand Teton. The upper part of the range overlooks Jackson Lake, for a very picturesque view. After a quick stop at the Colter Bay Visitor’s Center, I continued on toward Jackson.

As I approached Jackson, Wyoming, I could see dark clouds over the mountains. It started to rain, along with thunder and lightning. I don’t know if this is typical of weather across the country, but I’ve sure been caught in a lot of thunderstorms this summer. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the Silicon Valley weather at home, and its lack of rain or any other kind of storms. By the time I got to Jackson, the rain had stopped and the skies cleared. It was late afternoon, so I changed out of my motorcycle gear and headed for downtown.

Jackson has a cowboy theme somewhat like Cody, yesterday. I arrived downtown just in time to see the daily gunfight. Then I explored the rest of the town. All I could say was I once again needed more time. Someday I’ll just have to do the western US part of the ride again, with a couple of weeks to take in all the sights. I had dinner at the Gun Barrel Restaurant with a big moose head staring at me from above the table. A great meal, and another great day.

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  3. […] Parking lot for the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Dam.The dam is located at the east end of the reservoir in the canyon gorge between Rattlesnake Mountainand the smaller Cedar Mountain.(Photo: Old Boys Toys) […]

  4. […] Parking lot for the Buffalo Bill Reservoir and Dam.The dam is located at the east end of the reservoir in the canyon gorge between Rattlesnake Mountainand the smaller Cedar Mountain.(Photo: Old Boys Toys) […]

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